Nicholle Donohue and her daughter Carly Unger were driving on Main Road in Jamesport on Wednesday when they spotted a fur baby trotting along the roadside.
Thinking it was a small feral cat fending for itself in the cold, they decided to stop the car and help.
“We thought we saw a kitten walking on the road,” said Donohue, who lives in Mattituck. “So we pulled over and my daughter, being the animal lover and [savior] she is, jumped out and went to save it.”
What they were actually seeing was a fox kit (which is what baby foxes are called) who had been separated from its mother. The pair wrapped the tiny creature in a blanket and brought it to the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays.
The fox was dehydrated and suffering from two different parasites when it arrived, according to office assistant Kimberly Murawski.
“It needs round-the-clock care right now,” Murawski said. “We’re trying very hard not to socialize it because we want to release it to the wild.”
Volunteers with the rescue center returned to the site and set up traps, hoping to capture the kit’s siblings. While there, hey discovered the animal’s mother had been run over by a car and killed. No other foxes have been found there.
But the story does have a happy ending: The baby fox has since been treated and is expected to make a full recovery.
Donohue snapped this adorable pic of Carly, 15, with the kit nuzzled in her arms before dropping it off in Hampton Bays. Without her intervention, the young fox likely would not have made it.
“It probably would have been attacked by a predatory bird,” Murawski said.
Baby foxes are rarely brought to the rehab facility as they usually do not survive without their mothers, Murawski said. The center most recently took in an adult fox about two months ago.
“It was a very very hard winter for a lot of animals,” Murawski said.
The East End red fox population dwindled in the early 2000s but has made a comeback in recent years, according to experts.